Calcific Aortic Stenosis (AS)
The aortic valve separates the left main pumping chamber of the heart (left ventricle) from the main artery supplying blood to all of the body (the aorta) and prevents backward flow of blood. If this valve becomes narrowed over time from degeneration and calcium build up, this creates high pressures on the left side of the heart. This obstruction of blood flow to the body from the left heart leads to shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain and can result ultimately in left heart failure. Unlike bicuspid aortic stenosis, balloon dilation (balloon aortic valvuloplasty) is only indicated as a temporizing treatment, not as definitive treatment. Two current treatments exist for correcting the valve narrowing, surgical (open-chest/heart) and catheter-based (nonsurgical). Surgical correction involves open-heart valve replacement, whereas catheter-based treatment involves implantation of a stented valve via the artery in the leg (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation – TAVI). Both are safe and effective ways of managing calcific aortic stenosis and both prevent the adverse effects described above with long-term durability.